The Corner

Ed Gillespie Steps Up

A lot of conservatives have been complaining that Republican candidates this year are not telling voters how exactly they intend to scale back big government. They are running as opponents of Obamacare, but they are not explaining how they would repeal, replace, or reform it. One exception to that rule is Ben Sasse, who is running for an open Senate seat in Nebraska. Today, Ed Gillespie, the Republican nominee for Senate in Virginia (and a longtime friend of NR), became another. He outlined how he would replace Obamacare with something better.

“In order to repeal Obamacare,” he argues, “we must present an alternative that is both practically effective and politically viable. Repeal efforts in the absence of an alternative plan have repeatedly fallen short. Unlike some other alternative proposals, my plan is an attractive alternative to Obamacare that can actually achieve what millions across America who have been adversely affected by this monstrosity of a law desire: its full repeal.”

The plan is explicitly modeled on that of the 2017 Project. Its proposal has been estimated to yield more Americans with private health coverage, lower premiums, more access to doctors, and lower deficits than Obamacare. It would not cover as many people as Obamacare would in total — it is estimated to fall 6 million people short — but the plan could easily be modified to make up that gap without threatening any of its selling points.

The centerpiece of the plan is a tax credit that people who do not have access to coverage from a large employer could use to purchase insurance for themselves on the individual market. That market would be liberated from state-by-state restrictions on what kinds of policies individuals can buy. People with preexisting conditions would be enabled to maintain continuous insurance coverage and protected if they did so. Medicaid recipients would be enabled to buy into the same private market as everyone else rather than being kept in substandard insurance. The individual mandate, the exchanges, IPAB, the medical-device tax, and all the other features of Obamacare that have inspired conservative opposition would go.

Gillespie is running on the best health-care plan of any Republican candidate this year. If enacted it would result in a much better-functioning market than we have today or than we had before Obamacare: a market in which taxes and regulations did much less to distort health care. And taxpayers would save, he estimates, about $1 trillion over ten years. It’s a solid plan that reflects well on the candidate — and ought to inspire other candidates too.

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg View, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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